‘Inquest’ in syndie deal

Sony shapes 'Da Vinci' runs

Sony Pictures TV has inked to engineer the ad sales of “Da Vinci’s Inquest,” a scripted police procedural that kicks off in TV syndication this fall.

“Inquest” cleared TV stations in more than 80% of the U.S. for two plays each weekend.

It has run on the CBC in Canada since 1998, amassing 91 episodes. Nicholas Campbell plays Dominic Da Vinci, a coroner who leads a team of forensic investigators, pathologists and homicide detectives.

The series has two chances to rack up as much as $8 million in advertiser sales during the 2005-06 season. The first dollar harvest comes from the 14 minutes (over two runs) that Sony will pick up from the TV stations each weekend for sale to national advertisers.

The second is through an additional deal for “Inquest” with WGN, which will play back-to-back runs of the series every Tuesday night at 8 and give 14 minutes to Sony to pair with the 14 from syndication, starting in the fall. (WGN has ponied up an undisclosed amount of cash for a separate double run of “Inquest” every weekday at 3 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Ritch Colbert, a principal in Program Partners, distributor of “Inquest,” said if the show gets off to a good start in the Nielsens in TV syndication and on WGN, he has the right to sell a third window of simultaneous runs to a cable network that schedules hourlong police dramas, such as TNT, USA, Spike or A&E.

“Inquest” is a Haddock Entertainment/Barna-Alper production in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films, headed by Tim Gamble and Michael Shepard, produces the series in British Columbia for about $1.1 million an episode.

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